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Modified-Release Prednisone May Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis

Pill timed to body's rhythms, helps with morning joint stiffness, researchers say

THURSDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) A modified-release form of the steroid prednisone is better than the standard, immediate-release version at reducing morning joint stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis, a new study finds.

German researchers at Charite University Medicine Berlin studied 288 people with active rheumatoid arthritis. Half took standard prednisone (a glucocorticoid) when they woke in the morning and half took modified-release prednisone at bedtime. The modified-release tablets dispense prednisone four hours after ingestion.

After 12 weeks of treatment, patients taking the modified-release version experienced an average of 44 minutes less morning stiffness per day than at the start of the study. That was 29.2 minutes less than those who took the standard version, the team noted.

Their report is published in the Jan. 19 issue of The Lancet.

Both versions have nearly identical total drug exposure and maximum concentration values. They have the same safety profiles.

"Our results have confirmed that the new modified-release formulation is clinically and statistically better than the conventional immediate-release preparation with regard to morning stiffness of the joints. Furthermore, the effects of the new tablet taken at night were achieved in addition to the established clinical control of the disease resulting from previous treatment with conventional immediate-release prednisone," the study authors concluded.

The study was supported by drug maker Merck, which markets the modified-release form of prednisone under the brand name Lodotra.

More information

The Arthritis Foundation has more about rheumatoid arthritis.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: The Lancet, news release, Jan. 17, 2008

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